Needed: Homes for sale
The Steele County housing market has been tight for some time, but not quite as tight as it is today.
At the close of 2020, there were 25 active listings in Steele County, according to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), 19 of those in Owatonna. At the same time, there were 32 sales pending in the county, 29 of those in Owatonna.
“I don’t know of a market in this state, not facing a shortage of houses for sale,” said Eric Brownlow, executive director of Southeast Minnesota Realtors.
However, for Steele County, the number of available homes for sale is at a record low, said Brownlow.
“Everything Owatonna is doing points them in the right direction, except the housing market,” he said.
A housing study prepared for the City of Owatonna earlier this year projected that the area will need an additional 1,620 housing units over the next 10 years to meet market demands.
Matt Gillard, broker/owner at REMAX/Venture, said a balanced market in Owatonna would be 160 homes. “At 120, it becomes a seller’s market,” he said.
The solution, said Gillard, is more construction.
Darcy Ihrke, broker/owner of Berkshire Hathaway Advantage Real Estate, agreed.
“We need a development with spec homes,” she said, referring to houses that are built before a home buyer makes a purchase.
The city’s housing study found that there is enough vacant land available within the city to accommodate future housing development.
The question is: Will the developers be there to develop the land?
Local real estate agents polled developers about three years ago and developers said they really don’t want the risks, said Brownlow.
Meanwhile, city officials said, building permits for apartments and duplexes are up in the city, which relieves some of the pressure on the housing market.